Author: Hugo de Vries
Why is it important? - Although de Vries' original mutation theory soon lost support, he is credited with having rediscovered Mendel's work on inheritance.
In the early twentieth century the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's work with pea plants created a hotbed of activity surrounding genes, evolution, and inherited traits. The theory of evolution was rapidly advancing, not least thanks to the contributions of a Dutch botanist named Hugo de Vries.
|Hugo de Vries|
The Dutchman's work seemed to contradict that of Darwin's theory of evolution and gained him support from anti-Darwin campaigners. However, the new plant varieties he observed turned out to be caused not by mutations, but by the rearrangement of DNA within an individual plant's reproductive cells. It is now accepted that mutations do indeed contribute to evolution, but the reality is a gradual selection of these mutations over many generations.
Source: Defining moments in Science p.23